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NCAA’s 3-Point Rule Draws Varied Reaction From Coaches

The NCAA’s announcement Wednesday that it was adopting the three-point field goal for 1986-87 men’s basketball games sent Valley coaches scrambling to find out how it would affect their programs.

Not only will all NCAA teams begin to use a 19-foot, 9-inch three-point line next season, but the ruling likely will also be felt at junior colleges.

Cal Lutheran, a member of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics, will not be affected.

California junior colleges have already voted to adopt a 45-second shot clock next season, which the NCAA implemented this season. The three-point rule also could be instituted when conference representatives meet again in May.

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“At the last junior college meeting I attended, we were going to come in line with the NCAA,” College of the Canyons Coach Lee Smelser said. “If we want to go in line with the NCAA, then we’ll adopt it, but I hope it’s a look-see thing where we see what happens in a year or two.”

Pierce College Athletic Director Bob O’Connor doesn’t think there is any doubt about it. “I would imagine if the NCAA adopts it, we’ll adopt it,” he said.

At Cal State Northridge, Coach Pete Cassidy was already checking his roster to see who could score from 19 3/4 feet. He found one prospect.

“But it’s my assistant coach, Mark Felix,” Cassidy said. “I think he could nail it pretty regularly.” The CSUN coach said he believes the rule was instituted to open the college game.

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“There’s an awful lot of zone defense in college basketball now. The three-point rule is going to extend defenses and open holes inside,” Cassidy said. “I think I’d be a fool if I didn’t analyze it well and analyze my players to see who might take that shot when we’re down late in a game.

“But it’s not something I’d design my offense around.”

It is something, however, that could affect his recruiting. Cassidy already has his eye on Glendale College sharpshooter John Hoffman, and the three-point rule makes a player like Hoffman all the more attractive.

“We’re always looking for folks who can put the ball in the hole,” Cassidy said.

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Valley College Coach Virgil Watson said the distance is too close for a three-pointer.

“At 19-9, we’ll get guys who aren’t even great shooters who will be able to stick that one. It’s a regular jump shot,” Watson said. “There’s a lot of guys who can make a shot from 20 feet.”

Several NCAA conferences experimented with different three-point distances over a five-year research period, but a questionnaire of participating coaches found that most favored the 19-feet, 9-inch range.


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